Satellite capabilities to remotely estimate various ocean properties are continually increasing in maturity and scope. Sea surface temperature, height, and roughness; ocean vector winds; and bio-optical properties like chlorophyll concentration are now available on a routine and sustainable basis. These products are integral to operational applications for routine and event-driven environmental assessments, predictions, forecasts, and management. Yet these satellite observations are still underused, and they represent a huge potential for contributing to societal needs and the “blue economy.”
The first International Operational Satellite Oceanography (OSO) Symposium, organized and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, was held at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Approximately 150 people from 30 countries participated in the symposium. The day before the main meeting, 52 people attended an optional day of training related to satellite data processing and use.
The symposium brought together for the first time the international community of operational satellite oceanographic data and product providers and users. One intent of the symposium was to better define and understand the barriers, perceived or actual, hindering the use of satellite oceanographic observations. Another intent was to facilitate widespread incorporation of these observations into the value chain extending from their initial collection to their use across the range of operational applications.
This initial symposium, which consisted of plenary and poster sessions, focused on the upstream components of the value chain. These include the international community of satellite operators, information producers, and high- to intermediate-level users. Attendees shared ideas on how to better understand user needs and expectations, develop interoperability standards, and establish best practices that will lead to more universal use of ocean satellite data.
In the first five plenary sessions, invited speakers presented talks and answered audience questions during moderated panels. Each session loosely covered one of five themes:
- redefining the operational paradigm
- linking data providers to information providers
- helping users find the information they need
- facilitating the end-to-end value chain
- understanding commercial provider needs
After a summation of these sessions, leaders in economics, applied research, the commercial sector, and future satellite mission planning offered their perspectives on the outlook for operational satellite oceanography.
The symposium adjourned after closing remarks and recommendations. A report summarizing the symposium, the identified challenges, and suggested recommendations is in preparation.
By all accounts, the symposium was a success. It marks the beginning of a biennial tradition in which those involved at all levels of the value chain, from data providers to users, will assemble to foster the use of operational satellite oceanographic data, products, applications, and services to provide greater societal benefits. The next OSO Symposium will convene in the vicinity of Frankfurt, Germany, during late spring to early summer 2021.
Christopher W. Brown ([email protected]), Center for Satellite Applications and Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, College Park, Md.; Veronica Lance, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites–Maryland, University of Maryland, College Park; and François Montagner, Remote Sensing and Products Division, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, Darmstadt, Germany